Mystery Tusk: Searching for Elephants in the Maine Woods (North Country Press, 2022) chronicles Gary Hoyle’s search for the identity of a tusk found in the collection of an old, dismantled museum, when the author was the Curator of Natural History at the Maine State Museum. [Read more…] about Mystery Tusk: Searching for Elephants in the Maine Woods
My first brush with the artifacts of history came when I was a youngster on a family vacation to Cooperstown, Otsego County, NY. I found the famous Baseball Hall of Fame, with its baggy uniforms, battered bats and flattened fielders’ mitts, decidedly ho-hum. I couldn’t wait to get to the nearby Farmers’ Museum and see something that I had heard of with wonder: the Cardiff Giant. [Read more…] about There Were Giants in the Earth in Those Days
In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, newly discovered letters from P.T. Barnum reveal details about his activities during the Gen. Tom Thumb tour in Scotland offering insight into Barnum’s anxieties, including his quest for a new play for Gen. Tom Thumb. They also shed light on Barnum’s commissioning of the “Anatomical Venus,” A life-sized, dissectible wax woman, for his American Museum in New York. [Read more…] about Becoming Barnum: The Anatomical Venus & Tom Thumb in Scotland
In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, P.T. Barnum was worried about his employees at the American Museum in New York City. He wanted museum taxidermist Emile Guillaudeu to create a pose for a pony’s skin that suggested motion with dignity and speed, but it is uncertain if he was successful. [Read more…] about Becoming Barnum: Taxidermy & The Physioscope
In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, P.T. Barnum tries to navigate a problem at the theater and make sure everything is running smoothly. He’s also eager to get a play about General Tom Thumb ready for an audience. Despite the play not being ready yet, Barnum is in London waiting for it and writes letters to his friends for help. Eventually, he gets the play and makes a big announcement in the newspaper about the General’s upcoming performance. [Read more…] about Becoming Barnum: General Tom Thumb’s Performance
In 1866, NY State Geologist James Hall received a message from T.G. Younglove, an official at Harmony Mills in Cohoes, New York, informing Hall that while conducting some excavations to expand the mill they uncovered a “great pothole” at the foot of Cohoes Falls where the Mohawk River begins to empty into the Hudson.
The “great pothole” contained a large jawbone “of some unknown beast,” much larger than that of an elephant. [Read more…] about Science & Suckers: The Cohoes Mastodon & The Cardiff Giant
In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, we dive into P.T. Barnum‘s 1846 letters to his uncle Alanson Taylor. He shares his business advice for their partnership in the Baltimore Museum, emphasizing the importance of good systems, press relations, and gradual improvements.
He also expresses disdain for previous museum managers and their lack of physical improvements. [Read more…] about Becoming Barnum: Going It Like a Rush
In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, explore the letters P.T. Barnum wrote on New Year’s Day in 1846 as he navigated his business dealings on both sides of the Atlantic and grappled with the difficult decision of whether to return home during his wife’s confinement. From business schemes to the challenges of managing a family across the ocean, this episode offers a unique insight into the mind of the legendary showman. [Read more…] about Becoming PT Barnum: New Year’s Day, 1846
In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, we learn about P.T. Barnum’s thoughts on personal wealth, honor, and “gulling” the public, as well as his religious beliefs and values.
We explore letters written in December 1845 in which Barnum discusses his wife’s pregnancy, his acquisition of paintings of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and his efforts to persuade others of his Universalist beliefs. Don’t miss this fascinating look into the personal and financial life of P.T. Barnum in the 19th century. [Read more…] about PT Barnum’s Personal Life
In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, P.T. Barnum works to promote the performances of his famous protégé, General Tom Thumb, in London. He uses handbills, street parades, and even advertising vans to attract a crowd. This episode includes an interesting tale of how Barnum brought General Tom Thumb to the stage in London and offers a unique glimpse into 19th century entertainment. [Read more…] about PT Barnum’s Promotion of General Tom Thumb in London